College football roundup: Louisiana-Lafayette upsets No. 23 Iowa State

Louisiana-Lafayette quarterback Levi Lewi looks for an open receiver as Iowa State defensive end JaQuan Bailey chases him.
Louisiana-Lafayette quarterback Levi Lewi, left, looks for an open receiver as Iowa State defensive end JaQuan Bailey chases him during the Ragin’ Cajuns’ victory Saturday.
(Charlie Neibergall / Associated Press)

Louisiana-Lafayette got kick and punt returns for touchdowns to help secure one of its biggest wins in program history, 31-14 over No. 23 Iowa State on Saturday in Ames, Iowa.

On a day when both offenses seemed overmatched, the Ragin’ Cajuns were ignited by Chris Smith’s 95-yard kickoff return in the second quarter and Eric Garror’s 83-yard punt return in the third.

Levi Lewis also threw a 78-yard scoring pass to Peter LeBlanc to give Louisiana-Lafayette a 17-14 lead late in the third quarter.


Louisiana-Lafayette beat a top-25 opponent for the first time, having gone 0-26 against ranked foes away from home. The Ragin’ Cajuns’ only other victory over a top-25 team was in 1996 at home against Texas A&M.

“We’ve got a lot of belief that the University of Louisiana should always have a competitive team,” coach Billy Napier said. “We’re fortunate we got the necessary things from our administration. They decided they wanted to have an exceptional Group of Five football program. ... This is what we expected to happen.”

The Ragin’ Cajuns limited Cyclones quarterback Brock Purdy to 16-for-35 passing for 145 yards and no touchdowns with an interception. It was Iowa State’s fewest passing yards in two years.

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Iowa State’s Breece Hall rushed for 103 yards and a touchdown in 20 carries.

The Cyclones’ offense sputtered early with a series of dropped passes before putting together consecutive touchdown drives of 49 and 69 yards.

Smith put Louisiana-Lafayette on the board immediately after Iowa State’s first score. The Ragin’ Cajuns drove 61 yards in the final 70 seconds of the first half, pulling to within 14-10 on Nate Snyder’s 30-yard field goal.

No. 1 Clemson 37, Wake Forest 13

Trevor Lawrence threw for 351 yards and combined for three touchdowns, and Clemson continued its domination of Wake Forest in the season opener for both teams in Winton-Salem, N.C.

Trevor Etienne ran for 102 yards and a touchdown for Clemson, which improved to 70-5 since the start of the 2015 season under coach Dabo Swinney.

Clemson has outscored Wake Forest 152-19 over the last three seasons, holding the Demon Deacons to one touchdown.

Clemson is looking to win its sixth straight Atlantic Coast Conference title and reach the College Football Playoff national championship game for the fifth time in the six seasons. The last time the Tigers were on the field they lost 42-25 loss to Louisiana State in which Lawrence was held without a touchdown pass.

Lawrence’s passes were on the mark for the most part, as he completed 22 of 28 passes. Wake Forest quarterback Sam Hartman was 11 of 21 for 182 yards passing and was sacked four times before being replaced in the fourth quarter.

No. 5 Oklahoma 48, Missouri State 0

Spencer Rattler threw for 290 yards and four touchdowns in his first start for Oklahoma in Norman, Okla.

Rattler, the highly touted redshirt freshman from Phoenix, only played the first two quarters and helped the Sooners take a 41-0 lead.

The Sooners led 31-0 at the end of the first quarter and outgained the Bears 236 yards to one. It was the first time since 2008 that Oklahoma scored at least 31 points in a first quarter and the sixth time in school history.

Saturday marked the first Power Five football games played with COVID-19 protocols, but the lack of alumni clubs meeting across L.A. made for a sad mood.

Rattler got plenty of help. Seth McGowan, a true freshman, caught a touchdown pass and ran for a score. Charleston Rambo had four catches for 80 yards and two scores, including a 53-yard touchdown catch from Rattler. Oklahoma gained 608 total yards, including 484 passing.

The Sooners held Missouri State to 136 yards and seven first downs in their first shutout since 2015. It was a rough debut with the Bears for coach Bobby Petrino, best known for his success at Louisville and Arkansas.

No. 10 Notre Dame 27, Duke 13

Kyren Williams ran for 112 yards and two touchdowns in his first start, grad quarterback Ian Book threw for 263 yards, and Notre Dame beat Duke at rainy Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Ind., in the season and Atlantic Coast Conference opener for both teams.

The speedy Williams, who saw limited action last season as a freshman, had 19 carries and also was the Fighting Irish’s leading receiver with two receptions for 93 yards, one a 75-yarder in the first half.

The victory was Notre Dame’s 19th consecutive at home and the first for the Fighting Irish in a conference after 132 years as an independent. Because of COVID-19, the Irish are playing this season as a member of the ACC. The school announced a crowd of 10,097, 90% of them students, attended the game in the 77,622-seat stadium, where fans were wearing masks and socially distanced because of the pandemic.

The triumph also came on a day when the school announced a four-year contract extension for coach Brian Kelly, who is improved to 9-2 in openers at Notre Dame.

Book outdueled Duke grad quarterback Chase Brice, who threw for 259 yards on 20-for-37 passing and rushed for a touchdown in his debut for coach David Cutcliffe after transferring from Clemson.

No. 14 Texas 59, Texas El Paso 3

Texas' Sam Ehlinger looks to pass against UTEP on Sept. 12, 2020.
Texas’ Sam Ehlinger looks to pass against UTEP on Saturday night. He threw for 426 yards and five touchdowns.
(Chuck Burton / Associated Press)

Sam Ehlinger threw a 78-yard touchdown to Joshua Moore on the first play and had career-high five scoring passes in the first half for Texas in the opener in Austin, Texas.

Ehlinger finished with 426 yards. He left the midway through the third quarter with Colt McCoy’s Texas records for yards (470) and touchdowns (six) easily within reach.

Moore’s first touchdown since 2018 came on an inside route when he burst past one diving defender and outran two more with an easy path to the end zone. Ehlinger’s final touchdown pass came on a six-yard toss to walk-on Kai Money in the final seconds of the first half.

Texas’ original schedule had the Longhorns visiting defending national champion Louisiana State this weekend, in a rematch of a 2019 classic. But that game was scrapped as the Big 12 and Southeastern Conference retooled their schedules amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

No. 18 North Carolina 31, Syracuse 6

North Carolina's Dazz Newsome looks for running room against Syracuse on Saturday.
(Robert Willett / Associated Press)

Javonte Williams ran for three fourth-quarter touchdowns, and North Carolina overcame a mistake-filled performance in the season opener for both teams in Chapel Hill, N.C.

Michael Carter added 138 yards of total offense for the Tar Heels (1-0, 1-0 ACC), who won in an empty home stadium after the school decided to open with no fans in attendance because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The Tar Heels opened with a touchdown drive only to sputter well into the third quarter in a performance hampered by turnovers and penalties. But they gradually settled into a rhythm, looking much more like the team expected to be a contender in the ACC race.

By the fourth quarter, they were rolling, with Williams scoring from one yard out on the first play of the period followed by a six-yard score on the next drive. And by the time he bounced off a tackler and scored on another six-yard run, the Tar Heels had turned a 10-6 lead into a 25-point margin.

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Syracuse’s offense did little well, generating little from its running game unless it came on quarterback Tommy DeVito scrambling to keep plays alive. But DeVito completed just 13 of 31 passes for 112 yards while taking seven sacks, as the Orange (0-1, 0-1) finished with 202 total yards.

Arkansas State 35, Kansas State 31

Jonathan Adams Jr. caught three touchdown passes, including the game-winner with 38 seconds remaining in Arkansas State’s win in Manhattan, Kan.

Layne Hatcher threw a 17-yard pass to Adams for the winning score after the Wildcats (0-1) had taken a 31-28 lead on a Blake Lynch 35-yard field goal with 2:30 remaining.

Arkansas State (1-1) faked a punt that led to a pass interference call, keeping a drive alive and leading to a five-yard touchdown pass to Adams from Logan Bonner for a 28-21 lead with just less than 12 minutes left in the fourth quarter.

Kansas State responded with Harry Trotter’s five-yard touchdown run before Lynch’s go-ahead field goal.

Virginia-Virginia Tech game postponed

The pandemic disrupted college sports again, with Virginia and Virginia Tech postponing their Sept. 19 football opener because of COVID-19 issues at Virginia Tech.

The schools said this was a mutual agreement. No makeup date was announced for the game that had been set for Virginia Tech’s Lane Stadium. Virginia Tech also will not hold football practice for four days.

The postponement is the second for the Hokies since the ACC released a revised schedule. Their original opening game, slated for Sept. 12 against North Carolina State, was pushed back two weeks after a COVID-19 outbreak at N.C. State.

Virginia, suddenly faced with not opening its season until Oct. 3 at No. 1 Clemson, announced it has moved its home game against Duke to Sept. 26. The game was originally scheduled for Nov. 14.

On its web page, Virginia Tech reported Friday that it had 219 positive tests for the coronavirus in the previous seven days, putting its total infections at 633 since testing began Aug. 3. The numbers have risen steadily since students returned Aug. 24.